This morning I got to be a part of the EDUCAUSE Mobile Sprint, a five day, webinar-based event focused on mobile technology. When they first approached me with words like “keynote” / “presentation”, I declined as I have a huge amount of prep for events end of this week and next.

Plus, I am no expert on mobile tech. Sure I use and love my iThings, but…

But Catherine Yang and Julie Little came back, offering a format that would not involve slide decks and a ton of upfront prep. I salute their team for pushing hard on the webinar format.

And today’s kickoff session for the week turned out to be fun, me being paired with someone who actually is doing work in the field, Joanne Kossuth at Olin College.

The EDUCAUSErs had formed broad questions, and asked us each to pick images/slides to background our remarks.

My first thoughts on why mobiles are “a hot topic” on campuses were- it’s about time! The flames of potential have been lit a long time coming. On the other hand, education is not quite as far “behind” as we tend to think. Not many industries have really fully “grokked” mobile. It is a sprint for everyone.

So about the cell phone Santas above.

I use these images sometimes just to show the everydayness of portable technology. But something struck me that might be a bit more provocative to say in regard to the question about challenges for higher education organizations.

Like Santa Claus, there is a glorified idealized impression what (Education/Christmas) means. And inside our organizations, we pride ourselves on our uniqueness, our edge. And there are plenty of unique things inside one.

But at some broader scale, like department store Santas, we are more the same than not, and frankly… not all that different. And that is where we get mired in the “we cannot do that with X” , or the mantra I tired of hearing at Maricopa “We are too big/independent of a system to collaborate” (though later I saw more collaboration happening on a bigger scale at places like the Virginia Community College System and at Penn State University).

Sorry, higher education, while maybe Harvard Claus has a neater beard than say, Podunk State College, for what you do– you are not as unique as you think. You ring a bell, let kids sit on your lap, charge tuition, promise gifts, and grant degrees. You all do that.

This is not meant as a criticism of higher ed, but more so of the roadblocks that people put up to new ideas, a response that often starts with a negative.

Oh well, I have no idea how that flew. There were like 350 people in the webinar, and the chat was scrolling fast enough to generate electricity.

The other thing I noticed is that we still largely tend to focus on devices “tablets are the game changer”, “smart phones will revolutionize X”- mobility is not about the devices- it is about devices providing people the affordances of being mobile. People are mobile. People are interesting in mobility.

And lastly, I have anew metric maybe worth tracking for ed tech talks- the amount of time it takes i a presentation until someone pipes in with:

But what are the implications for FERPA?

Thus, today the TTFQ (Time To FERPA Question) was a little over 20 minutes.

I cannot think of EDUCAUSE without remembering the evaluations I got back one year after the ELI meeting where I was part of the Horizon Report presentations. There was one comment that always stood out:

Alan Levine thinks he is so funny, but he is not.

Thanks man, I think of you all the time, and hope you enjoyed my humor today.

The sessions are full, but I’d eyeball twitter tomorrow to see if they open up the doors at the last minute for walkings- the session on Teaching and Learning features a great panel of people who, unlike me, really have their feet in the game- Kyle Bowen from Purdue (the apps development they are doing there are amazing and he really is funny); Judy Brown from University of Wisconsin, where they have been leaders in mobile tech; Jennifer Sparrow from Virginia tech (met finally for the first time at ELI, she is really sharp too), and my colleague/friend with boundless energy, Lisa Young from Scottsdale Community College (doing all the stuff with full application virtualization on iPads/iPhones).

Yeah, it’s a sprint.

The recordings and stuff from today;s adventure are at
http://www.educause.edu/Resources/TheFutureofMobileComputing/227590

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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